Hoping this thread can be generally useful for those going to the Big Island in addition to being personally useful for me.
I’m headed to the Big Island in a few weeks (my gf qualified for Kona) and will be bringing my bike. I’ve been to Kona several times previously, so I’m quite familiar with the area/island as a whole, but have never ridden. So:
- Are there any routes I should be particularly aware of that leave from Kona?
- Are there any “must-do” routes on the island?
- I can bring my road bike (Storck Aerfast) or my gravel bike +/- road wheels (OPEN UPPER). Thoughts? Is there any real reason (other than the below) for a gravel bike?
This brings us to the second part: climbing Mauna Kea. I would likely go from Waikaloa. From what I can tell, people either use their road bike and switch to a hard tail at the visitor center or go for it with a gravel bike. If I brought my road bike, I could opt to rent a gravel rig for the day.
My OPEN is geared at 50/34 in front with 11/34 in the back. I’m 4.8-4.9 W/kg (FTP ~365 W). Not really sure how I could get more advantageous gearing other than maybe squeezing a 11/36 105 cassette on. My thought is to run the OPEN as is and put something like a Pathfinder on for tires: smooth center for the pavement but wider and knobby for the gravel. I’d probably run a higher pressure for the pavement and deflate at the Visitor Center. Would love thoughts from anyone who has done the climb.